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Puzzle Strike (Third Edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: What I don't like about. . . Puzzle Strike rss

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Curious Fu
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Nobody loves criticism. About themselves or the things they love. But when it comes to making informed decisions about the games I buy, I want to know a little about the flaws it might have. Whether I love the game or not, this review is my personal opinion about what doesn’t work for me. Solutions, workarounds, variants and expansions may fix some of the issues I have. This review is just about the base game as I see it.

What I don’t like about. . . Puzzle Strike

1) Uninspired Graphic Design

The box looks great, the characters are cool and the rule book has some nice art in it too and although I think the physical quality of the chips are really good – I hate the look of them! Basically just a couple of symbols and some writing. I have no idea if there is a way to do it but I would have really liked to have seen some language independent, great graphic designed chips. There are some good chips in the game, especially the gems – I don’t have an issue with them – but the action chips I find are boring.

I also wish the characters made a bigger presence in the game. On their individual chips there is a very small icon of their face. I would have liked to see a cardboard stand-up figure! I printed off some images of the characters and made my own cards which helped but, it would have been nice if there was something in-game. Although there are four individually coloured player screens with individual 8 bit graphics, I would also have liked to have seen 4 individually designed player “Battle Arena” boards.

Final Opinion: Puzzle Strike is staying in my collection as my favourite deck/bag building game. I got rid of a few other good deck builders before deciding to keep with this one. It’s a great game but I just wish it had more streamlined images on the chips. That might have given the game a bigger learning curve due to the symbology and a thicker rule book – but it would have looked much better, allowed for language independence and just provided a cooler ambience.

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Aaron White
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Bathurst
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This is a surprisingly short post considering the title. I love Puzzle Strike too, I can see your points but I am glad your comments are minor. Love this game.
 
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Curious Fu
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I do the majority of my game review checking in store. Living in Japan means that there is not really a wide selection of titles available. In addition, any information about a game is often in Japanese (although the game is printed in English the back of the box is covered with a Japanese translation + rules). As a result, if I find a game I am interested in I want a quick couple of pointers while I am in the shop to give me some ideas about the game rather than a long review.

Hopefully, just a quick one or two negatives helps gives a bigger picture about what the game is like for people like myself.
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Clwe
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I agree that the chip design is uninspired and a bit boring...but, no way would I want it to be language independant for the sake of more prominent character art. It's bad enough in games like Kemet, where ALL the power tiles have symbols to describe what they do (I had to print off A4 sheets to hold the power tiles with descriptions beneach each one, just so we didn't have constant four-way fights for the rulebook). Besides, I don't even think it's possible to 'describe' some chips with symbols alone, like Persephone's Mistress Command or Degrey's Pilebunker (there's a challenge for the symbol designer of Race for the Galaxy devil).

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for language independence, but after a certain level of complexity has been reached, you should really should put clarity/ease of use first. It's no fun having to dig through a rulebook every two minutes because you can't remember what heiorglyphic symbol #327 means on a card.

It is a shame that you only have a tiny picture of your chosen character on their special chips (it doesn't give you any idea of what they're like unless you've played Yomi/Flash Duel). However...I think that in the end, the designer did the right thing by going for clarity over pretty-looking character art.
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Austin Andersen
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I did a good amount of research prior to purchasing Puzzle Strike. As I used to play the crap out of Puzzle Fighters when I was younger, it was a natural buy for me. The only thing I don't like is the game at player counts other than 2. In my opinion, this game was meant to be played with 2 and only 2. The other player counts lose something that the 2 player count has. If I want a deck builder for more players, I will play something else, but for 2 this is about as good as it gets. Love the game, just not with more than 2. No more. No less.

I suppose setup, tear down, and reset can take a bit of time, but it isn't intolerable and no worse than many games. Even still, if I want a 2 player deck builder that plays fast and is versus, I go with Star Realms more often. I enjoy Puzzle Strike more, but for some reason find getting Star Realms to the table is a lot easier. Maybe it's because it uses cards rather than chips.

For 3 players or more, I enjoy Arctic Scavengers.

For 1 player, I recommend Shadowrun: Crossfire for a deeper experience and Valley of the Kings for something lighter. Friday was fun for a short while, but lacked variety and thus staying power. Once you have a core strategy down, you tend to stick to it.
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David Sirlin
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Hey, I just wanted to point out that Puzzle Strike is very much meant for 3 and 4 players as well. It could be that you don't like it that way, which is fine, but it's not some after-thought mode. Quite the opposite.

Free for all games often have a problem of being dominated by pre-game alliances (team up with someone before you start and have overwhelming advantage), or have the problem that you want to sit around and do nothing while other players weaken each other. Puzzle Strike's FFA mode manages to avoid both of those, and has pretty interesting dynamics. (It also doesn't have player elimination, which is nice.)

This stuff is mentioned in the "free-for-all" section of this design post: http://www.sirlin.net/articles/designing-puzzle-strike

A historical note about the way the Puzzle Strike FFA mode works, too. I was working on the FFA mode for Codex like 10 years ago or something and hit upon the same kind of system. Many problems with FFA are solved if you end the game when ANYONE would lose, call one particular player the winner, and give all players a way to protect a would-be loser. I'm not really aware of other games doing this (maybe they do? idk), but I considered this one of my contributions to the general field of game design, since FFA problems have been so common.

Anyway, the fun footnote is that I developed this kind of FFA solution for Codex first, but it turns out Codex was released years after Puzzle Strike, so most people will think the Puzzle Strike FFA came first, when really it was the second time I used this type of system from my point of view.

All that stuff I'm talking about is about game dynamics though. If you're talking about quick setup time, there are definitely faster games to setup/teardown for four players.
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Austin Andersen
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Sirlin wrote:
Hey, I just wanted to point out that Puzzle Strike is very much meant for 3 and 4 players as well. It could be that you don't like it that way, which is fine, but it's not some after-thought mode. Quite the opposite.

Free for all games often have a problem of being dominated by pre-game alliances (team up with someone before you start and have overwhelming advantage), or have the problem that you want to sit around and do nothing while other players weaken each other. Puzzle Strike's FFA mode manages to avoid both of those, and has pretty interesting dynamics. (It also doesn't have player elimination, which is nice.)

This stuff is mentioned in the "free-for-all" section of this design post: http://www.sirlin.net/articles/designing-puzzle-strike

A historical note about the way the Puzzle Strike FFA mode works, too. I was working on the FFA mode for Codex like 10 years ago or something and hit upon the same kind of system. Many problems with FFA are solved if you end the game when ANYONE would lose, call one particular player the winner, and give all players a way to protect a would-be loser. I'm not really aware of other games doing this (maybe they do? idk), but I considered this one of my contributions to the general field of game design, since FFA problems have been so common.

Anyway, the fun footnote is that I developed this kind of FFA solution for Codex first, but it turns out Codex was released years after Puzzle Strike, so most people will think the Puzzle Strike FFA came first, when really it was the second time I used this type of system from my point of view.

All that stuff I'm talking about is about game dynamics though. If you're talking about quick setup time, there are definitely faster games to setup/teardown for four players.


I guess I should clarify. Puzzle Strike isn't a bad game at 3 or 4 players, it is just that I enjoy it so much as a 2 player game, I'd rather not taint the enjoyment I get out of the game by playing it at any other player count. Just as I would not play Chaos in the Old World with less than 4 players even though it can be played with 3 or 4.

I'm sure none of your games have tacked on features that are added as an after-thought. I have no doubt that you put much thought into all your designs. For the most part, I have to say, I have been happy with your designs and Puzzle Strike remains one of my favorite games in my collection.

I haven't tried it, but I wonder if FFA in Puzzle Strike would work better at higher player counts if the gem limit was increased from 10 to 15 or 20 and the numbers for how many chips you drew was tweaked to match. I imagine it would probably lead to some crazy gem crashing combos.

Maybe I'm too cutthroat, but I wouldn't mind player elimination with players continuing play until a sole winner remains.
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Alenros
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my favourite mode of Puzzle Strike is the 2v2. have you tried it?
it really compliments comboing and gets tough rather quick
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Lance
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curiousfu wrote:

I also wish the characters made a bigger presence in the game. On their individual chips there is a very small icon of their face. I would have liked to see a cardboard stand-up figure! I printed off some images of the characters and made my own cards which helped but, it would have been nice if there was something in-game.


Or you could get Flash Duel: Revised Second Edition and get the cardboard characters from there (plus another Sirlin game).
 
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Kevin Jonas

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I don't mind the graphical design of the chips, it is simple and easy to read. Language independent would be interesting but then you would need a language dependent guide. I think it would be easier to make language dependent stickers.

I also wish on the character chips it had the name of the character.

I improved my copy by adding tokens to keep track of actions. I like how the electronic version shows you what actions you have available. It helps when using certain characters and bank chips that give a bunch of different arrows and other actions. I got the tokens from Litko.



I will play Puzzle Strike with any number of players. My last play was 2v2. I actually really like 1v1v1. I like the dynamic that whoever is in the middle needs to help out whoever is about to lose.
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Tony Brum
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sirpoonga wrote:
I don't mind the graphical design of the chips, it is simple and easy to read. Language independent would be interesting but then you would need a language dependent guide. I think it would be easier to make language dependent stickers.

I also wish on the character chips it had the name of the character.

I improved my copy by adding tokens to keep track of actions. I like how the electronic version shows you what actions you have available. It helps when using certain characters and bank chips that give a bunch of different arrows and other actions. I got the tokens from Litko.



I will play Puzzle Strike with any number of players. My last play was 2v2. I actually really like 1v1v1. I like the dynamic that whoever is in the middle needs to help out whoever is about to lose.


Hi Kevin - The tokens you added look and sound very interesting. If you can, please a photo including each individual token you use and what you use them for?

Thanks,
Tony
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Kevin Jonas

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Arrows for the different color actions. Green and Red money tokens to track money.



http://www.litko.net/products/Personalized-Game-Tokens-%28Ba...
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Tony Brum
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sirpoonga wrote:
Arrows for the different color actions. Green and Red money tokens to track money.



http://www.litko.net/products/Personalized-Game-Tokens-%28Ba...


Thanks Kevin. I think that's a great idea!
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